The Bear Care Group is a non-profit group dedicated to the continued organization of international bear husbandry conferences, programs, publications, and resources for bear caregivers at sanctuaries, rehabilitation facilities, and zoos. This website provides the most recent information and easy access to all conference needs including; conference and hotel registration, transportation info, and more.

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The Bear Care Group is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.   The Bear Care Group  tax identification number is 26-2885950.

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Our Impact

Notes from ABC Workshop 2018 - India

Kartick Satyanarayan, Co-founder & CEO Wildlife SOS said, “It was a real honour to host this international conference in India. Our aim was to bring together international experts and share knowledge on bear protection, wildlife conservation and human wildlife conflict mitigation efforts. We were very excited to work with the Bear Care Group and the Indian zoo community to improve bear health and welfare across the country.”

Geeta Seshamani, Co-founder & Secretary of Wildlife SOS said,” The workshop was designed to improve husbandry, management, health and welfare for bears and caregivers in zoos, sanctuaries, and rehabilitation facilities around the world.It opens our eyes to better ways of nurturing and enriching the lives of the bears in our care and deepens our appreciation and knowledge for the emotional and inner life of the wildlife in captivity"

Note from Nguyen Tam Thanh, Animal Welfare Officer, Animals Asia Vietnam
ABC 2015 - Vietnam


Advancing Bear Care and Animals Asia co-hosted a workshop in Hanoi, Vietnam at the end of 2015. Delegates from around Vietnam attended the workshop where they learned about behavior based husbandry, enrichment and veterinary care. An afternoon was spent at The Hanoi Zoological Park where staff and workshop delegates got together to make hammocks for the bears in their collection. These were used immediately by the bears and provided a welcome resting area, off the concrete floor of their enclosure.

The staff and delegates were also shown the principles of operant conditioning. Because of the workshop, zoo staff recognized the importance of animal training which made it much easier for Animals Asia volunteers to get the zoo staff involved with training various animals in the zoo. The staff have now been able to train the bears and tigers for recall and the Przewalski horses are currently being trained for hoof care. No longer are procedures like these stressful for the animals and zoo staff involved and a deeper bond has been established between the animal and keeper, which is a positive outcome for all.

Note from Tracy Leaver, Executive Director of Woodlands Wildlife Refuge
ABC 2013 - New Jersey

Woodlands Wildlife Refuge of New Jersey, USA was honored to host the Advancing Bear Care conference in October 2013. Over 100 delegates from 14 countries representing zoos, sanctuaries, the fields of research and biology, and wildlife rehabilitation attended. This amazing group of people came together to share knowledge, expertise, techniques and ideas to improve the care, well-being and understanding of all bear species.

The five days of inspiring workshops and lectures included an in depth look at the successes and challenges of Woodlands’ black bear rehabilitation and release program, and delegates ventured into black bear territory with New Jersey’s Black Bear Research Team. A live performance was given by Key Wilde and Mr. Clarke, singing “A Bear Song”, written especially for the ABC group.

Many delegates stayed an extra day to lend helping hands at Woodlands. Grace, a resident geriatric bear got extra special treatment for her advancing years as her enclosure was doubled in size and outfitted with additional foraging areas. Her bedding and water areas were made more easily accessible, and a fire hose hammock was made and installed. In our large pre-release bear enclosure additional enrichment elements were added. All in all this hard working and generous group accomplished weeks of work in a single magical day that will never be forgotten.

Woodlands is honored to have partnered with the Bear Care Group and deeply appreciative of the knowledge shared among the delegates and the generosity shown to us.

Note from Dana Canari, Romania Zoo and Aquaria Federation
ABC 2014 - Romania


I got the chance to be a part of the ABC 2014 - Romania organization team. The Romanian Zoos and Aquaria Federation hosted the Advancing Bear Care – 2014 Romania workshop in the beautiful city of Brasov, Romania; a place where an encounter with a wild brown bear in the city streets is not unusual.   In almost a year of preparations, I gained a lot of experience working with the Bear Care Group team of experts and it was also fun. Lots of emails, ideas, and discussions - all passing by very quickly - lead to one of the most interesting events for the Romanian zoo community. Four days of presentations, practicums and problem solving sessions gave us a lot of information about behavior-based bear care and ways to ensure their captive welfare. Learning to read bear behavior was extremely useful since almost all the zoos in Romania have brown bears in their collections and we are working to improve our animal management techniques.


I was also very happy to meet the delegates and learn about their experiences and problems. Coming from eight different countries they offered a wide view over bear management. The evenings were spent in friendly networking with delegates.  For example, I learned a great deal from the delegates of the Five Sisters Zoo in Scotland that have rehomed and rehabilitated three adult brown bears rescued from a circus. I have to say a big thank you to the Bear Care Group team for choosing the Romanian Zoos and Aquaria Federation as a partner in this event.


Am avut sansa sa fac parte din echipa care a organizat Workshopul Asigurarea bunastarii la ursi 2014. Federatia Gradinilor Zoologice din Romania a gazduit acest eveniment in Brasov, un oras frumos pe ale carui strazi  intalnirile cu ursii nu sunt ceva deosebit. In aproape un an de pregatiri, am castigat multa experienta lucrand cu echipa de experti de la Bear Care Group, totul intr-o nota pozitiva. Nenumarate mailuri, idei si discutii, toate desfasurandu-se intr-un ritm alert, au condus la finalizarea unuia dintre cele mai interesante evenimente ale comunitatii zoo din Romania. Patru zile de prezentari, practicum si sesiuni de rezolvarea a problemelor ne-au oferit o cantitate mare de informatii referitoare la ingrijirea bazata pe studiul comportamentului si metodele de asigurare a bunastarii animalelor. Cunostintele despre comportamentul ursilor bruni au fost foarte folositoare deoarece majoritatea gradinilor zoologice din Romania detin in colectii aceasta specie si doresc sa isi imbunatateasca tehnicile de management.


De asemenea, a fost o placere sa discut cu ceilalti participanti care venind din opt tari si doua continente, au oferit o imagine complexa asupra experientelor si problemelor intalnite in ingrijirea ursilor. Serara, dupa finalizarea lucrarilor, atmosfera devenea mai relaxata si am putut invata multe din povestirile echipei de la Five Sisiter Zoo din Scotia care au reabilitat trei ursi adulti salvati de la circ. Le multumesc foarte mult celor de la BCG pentru alegerea FGZAR ca partener in acest proiect! 

Note from Nic Field, Animals Asia, China
ABC 2013, 2011, 2009 Delegate and Speaker


I have had the good fortune to attend and present at three ABC conferences. First of all I am happy to represent the work Animals Asia is involved in and to share our experiences and what we have learned about bear care and management. Most of all though I think ABC provides a wonderful forum for bear professionals to come together and share their experiences and knowledge and for us each to learn from one another. I have learned so much from the conferences be it through the workshops, presentations, spending time with biologists in the field or visiting other facilities. Learning more about wild bear behaviour has provided wonderful insight into how we can adapt our management to suit our bears. Learning about different enrichment techniques and approaches in other facilities has provided new and novel ideas that we can utilise and learning more about training approaches has benefited us for example in developing conscious blood draw with our own bears. It has been fascinating hearing about the rehabilitation work that is being done and learning about the successes and challenges that are faced. For us there have been various helpful things that we have taken away from these conferences, one being using marshmallows to administer unpleasant tasting medications to the bears which is now routinely used to thinking more about behavioural based husbandry in how we manage the bears including where possible giving our bears access to enclosures over night.I hope that the other delegates come away from the conferences having felt they too have learned from what we can share. We never stop learning about bears and I think that ABC has provided the platform that enhances and develops bear care to another level. 

Note from Zack Anderson, Calgary Zoo
ABC 2011 Banff, Delegate

I work in the education department of the Calgary Zoo, and I had the distinct privilege of attending one day at the Advancing Bear Care 2011 conference. Though the weather was miserable, the attendees and workshop leads were most definitely not! I attended the polar bear session with Joanne Simerson, and it was absolutely fascinating. It was jam-packed full of useful tidbits on current research work, animal husbandry techniques specific to polar bears, conservation concerns, and some natural history info as well. The session was low-key and coordinated in a friendly but very engaging manner. As a matter of fact I was shocked when the time had run out – I wanted to hear more! Afterwards I attended a talk about giant pandas given by Jay Pratte. He was an absolute treat to listen to as well – hilarious and full of fascinating panda info useful for animal care and educators alike. I’ve never learned so much about mucoid stools in my life!

Through both of these sessions I took detailed notes, which I have since passed on to our department. This information serves to further our departmental knowledge on these unique and fascinating species of bears who both face turbulent futures and significant conservation concerns. As our breadth of knowledge and understanding on these creatures expands, so does that of the one million plus people who pass through our gates every year on whom we impart our facts. From a more personal standpoint, it always benefits us in education to get more of a glimpse into the world of animals through the eyes and unique experiences of their keepers. I know that I enjoy it, and it only serves for my interest in the natural world to grow. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to attend and to learn so much!

Note from Tanya Smith, Turpentine Creek Wildlife Refuge 
ABC 2009 San Francisco, Delegate

  ...While my husband and I were at this fantastic conference we were contacted by a man who owned two bears now in need of new homes. He was facing foreclosure and was ordered to be off the property. His vehicles had already been repossessed and he had no money left to care for his animals. We felt compelled to help the bears even more due to all the experts we were meeting at the conference and thought that this rescue was a godsend considering where we were at the time we received this desperate plea. I was so inspired by Angelika Langen's talk from the Northern Lights Wildlife Shelter. 

On our way home we strategized how we could save these bears. Our flight got in late back to Arkansas and the next day my husband and our team headed out and arrived at the man’s property around 6 p.m. They met Bam Bam the two year old grizzly bear, and Thunder the one year old American black bear. Both seemed healthy and were full of energy. The bears were housed inside of a large barn in two  well constructed and clean, 10’ x 20’ cages. The barn was soon to be torn down in the foreclosure. It did feel like we got there to rescue the bears just in time. That evening our team determined what we would need to transfer the bears from their cages into our trailer, but we decided to wait until daylight to load the animals.
Bright and early the next morning we called the state Department of Wildlife Conservation to acquire an export permit, contacted a local vet to set up an inspection for our Arkansas import requirements, and headed back to pick up the bears. When our team arrived, we constructed a transfer chute, and both Bam Bam and Thunder moved fairly easily. At around 11 a.m. we had finished loading the bears and headed down the road. After a quick stop to pick up the export permit and a visit to the vets where both bears got a clean bill of health, we were on our way back to the refuge.

A few years before this rescue, I had turned away a grizzly bear because I wasn’t confidant that we could properly care for this animal. After attending the conference I felt like we were experts.